Metro Bancorp (METR) in Harrisburg, Pa., beat quarterly earnings estimates as its loan book posted strong growth.

The $2.8 billion-asset company earned $4.7 million in the third quarter, more than double the figure a year earlier, Metro reported Monday. Earnings per share of 33 cents were 6 cents higher than the average of estimates from analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net interest income climbed 5% to $22.9 million. Average interest-earning assets grew 13% to $2.6 billion, and total assets increased 9%. The loan growth made up for a tightening in the net interest margin of 26 basis points, to 3.49%.

Noninterest income increased 5% to $7.5 million as service charges and fees rose 8%, to $7.4 million. Noninterest expense fell slightly, to $22.4 million, 3% lower than the same period in 2012, when the bank recorded a $1.5 million regulatory charge.

Metro's asset quality improved, as the provision for loan losses fell by more than half to $1.2 million, and net chargeoffs fell to $1.8 million from $3.1 million.

Metro was freed from a regulatory order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. last year.

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